Scalextric. It’s one of those toys where the fun defies the simplicity of the idea. Plastic cars going round and round on grooved tracks and just a single trigger button to control them.
Yet in a Scalextric race the slightest extra little bit of pressure on the trigger could spell your doom as the car goes hurtling off the race-track and those who master the corners master the race.
Red Bull Racers aims to bring that thrill to mobile with its own take on the slot racer, all with a Red Bull themed spin, of course. Cars fly around (and sometimes upside down) on grooved tracks with the occassional change-over of lanes and plenty of spinning off in corners. It’s certainly an alternative to Formula 1, but does it get the formula right?
There are 3 main styles on offer in the game; Formula, which is where the F1 crowd will be at home, Off-road with small cars on dusty dirt tracks and Street racing, which offers another slightly different driving style. Starting off with Formula, you build up points to open the other styles as you play.
Controls are, as you’d expect, fairly simple. On the right is a button for power (like the trigger on the Scalextric) and on the left is one for changing lanes, a tactic that can be useful when taking corners as some corners benefit from an inside lane while others benefit from being on the outside. However, you can only change lanes on special yellow marked areas and this often takes split-second timing.
Sliding off the track is the main cause for concern and will lose you a big chunk of time in the race. Taking the corner too fast is one way to spin off, but you can also be knocked off by rivals. Luckily, your car is capable of doing the same to others, leading to another reason to use those track changing tactics.
Winning races may come down to mastering the controls, but upgrade certainly help out. Speed, breaking, boost and acceleration can all be increased by collecting money in races. This can greatly enhance your car’s ability to race and prices can soon get fairly steep as you build up your vehicle’s powers. Being freemium, it should come as no surprise that there’s also a fast track way to improve your stats too.
In App Payments wriggle their way under every aspect of the game. The major one is the ‘fuel’, a constantly decreasing power level on your trigger which needs recharging when you hit zero. Waiting is one way to do it, but you can quickly recharge with a payment as well. Buying new cars which unlock the other race styles or just upgrading cars in each style will take a fair amount of time if not paid for with cold, hard cash, too.
To be fair, the trigger energy goes down fairly slowly and you can fit in a good few races before having to wait, but a one time payment system as an option would be far more preferable to constant shelling out or waiting around for it to refill. Other payments for cars and ugrades feel a little fairer, though.
Aside from the payments, Red Bull Racers really gets the feel of slot car racing just right. The controls are tight and responsive, the competitiion rarely feels unfair and the upgrades really do make a difference.
If you fancy a new racing game and feel like something a bit different then Red Bull Racing is a polished and perfectly balanced slot racer.